Sometimes the answer to pain relief isn’t to dose yourself up on pills (although for many, that is the easiest and yes, most effective, option). Similar to the way massage can help relieve sore muscles and improve flexibility, chiropractic decompression is an option for relief when it comes to back pain.
What Exactly Is Chiropractic Decompression?
It doesn’t sound like a very gentle procedure, does it? Thankfully it doesn’t necessarily involve invasive surgery. Instead, decompression is achieved by using a traction table or a similar motorized device. Despite this scary-sounding aspect (you may be imaging something from a horror movie set in a dungeon), the basic principle of spinal traction remains.
What Happens During A Decompression Session?
When you attend a chiropractic decompression session, you’ll remain clothed while you lie on the traction table. A harness is placed around the hips and attached to the lower half of the table, near the feet. This part of the table moves, and your upper body remains still. Depending on the device used, you’ll be asked to either lie face-down or face-up.
The chiropractor will use the traction table or other device to stretch and relax your spine intermittently in a controlled manner. The idea is that this controlled stretching and relaxation creates pressure within the discs of your spine (known as negative intradiscal pressure). There shouldn’t be pain after the procedure is over, although you should feel the stretch in your spine.
What Are The Benefits And Who Should Not Undergo Decompression
Besides pain relief, chiropractic decompression is theorized to provide an optimal healing environment for herniated, bulging, or degenerating discs. This is achieved by promoting retraction or re-positioning of the bulging or herniated disc. This should lead to lower pressure in the disc itself, which then leads to an influx of healing nutrients and other substances into the disc.
As with any treatment, there are risks. Blood clots, infection, bleeding, and even nerve or tissue damage rank among the risks associated with this treatment. Some have also reported that they developed an allergy to anesthesia after undergoing decompression therapy.
If you’re pregnant, had spinal fusion, have broken vertebrae, suffered an abdominal aortic aneurysm, or have had multiple back surgeries without pain improvement, you should not have this procedure done. People with conditions such as spinal tumors, spinal stenosis, osteoporosis, spinal infection, or any other condition which may compromise the integrity of the spine shouldn’t undergo decompression.
If you have neck or arm pain and experience worsening of your symptoms, you should discontinue decompression therapy. Generally speaking, anyone who feels pain following decompression therapy should not continue.